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Bring Back Cantona!

Tony Cascarino thinks a few kung-fu kicks would sort out the yob element in football crowds.

Tony Cascarino, 10 Mar 2005

Rather than condeming him for his shush-ing gesture at the Carling Cup Final, the FA should give Jose Mourinho a medal for standing up to these morons who think they can scream obscenities at you for 90 minutes and get away with it.

Slagging’s one thing, but shouting “Hope your kid dies of cancer!” or something equally sick is behaviour that no manager, player or official should have to tolerate. You know what? Bring back Eric Cantona and let him steam into a few fans. That way we might weed out the cowards who eff and blind their way through games, and then go whining to the police when somebody has a go back.

I know this is a very un-PC thing to say, but when Cantona jumped over the barrier and kung-fu kicked that yob at Palace, I applauded.

I was substitute for Gillingham one night up at Doncaster and all I heard while I was doing my warm-up runs was this bloke shouting “You cockney so-and-so”. After the seventh or eighth time I said, “Why don’t you shut up for just two minutes and watch the game?” Which was the cue for me to get a hot meat pie in the chest. I know it’s got its humerous side, but it shows how difficult it is sometimes for players to maintain their dignity.

Somebody who has precious little of that left is Craig Bellamy whose refusal to shake Gary Caldwell’s hand after Celtic beat Hibernians on Sunday shows that he’s still the same charming chap he was at Newcastle.

You’d have thought that after being criticised so publicly by Graeme Souness he’d be on his best behaviour, but no, there he is making headlines again for the wrong reasons.

I’m amazed that Martin O’Neill didn’t have a word in his ear following the previous week’s cup visit to Clyde when he allegedly taunted Darren Sheridan about the size of his wage packet.

I know Darren through his Republic of Ireland brother John, and a nicer, more honest professional you couldn’t hope to meet. You can understand somebody wanting to stick one on Bellamy when he tells a player of 17-years standing that he can come round and dig his garden for him. Unless he gets a grip of himself, Craig Bellamy’s going to end up in some back bar playing pool and telling sad stories of how he could’ve been a contender.

Something that got buried because it broke at the start of a Champions’ League week was Premiership referee Mike Dean being suspended over his involvement in a betting website. It’s a different thing, but I broke the rules myself when I was a player by betting on us to beat Spain in a World Cup qualifier. I’ve also known lads who’ve betted on the opposition in quarter-finals so that if their win bonus doesn’t come through they’ve a few quid to make up for it.

The rumours about match rigging are usually just that, rumours, although I did play at Marseilles under Bernard Tapie, who was prepared to take out extra insurance to make sure his club won. One night before a European game Tapie saw me talking to somebody he didn’t recognise and, being the sort of bloke he is, jumped to the conclusion that he was trying to get me to throw the game. I told him, “No, no, no, it’s a reporter,” but he still came up to me in the dressing-room afterwards and called me a “cheat” because I’d missed a couple of chances. Him thinking that was even dafter given that we’d won 2-1!

Returning to the Premiership, I was a bit bemused by Arsene Wenger saying that he’s only going to buy “star players” with the £20 million Arsenal are letting him have in the summer. Sorry to disappoint you Arsene but, at today’s prices, that’ll just about buy you Steven Gerrard’s left leg!

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